Saturday, December 31, 2011

Oh My God, Becky...

I used to work at a store. I used to work at several stores but there is one store in particular that sells the materials I use to make my living so I visit them pretty regularly. I worked there for five years.
When I went in today my old boss was there and she said "you look like you've gained weight!" And I thought
"Ooooooooooooh guuuuuuuuuuuurl. Oh no you di'n't! You did not just tell me I have got my fat pants on today! FEMALE!" but I was prescient enough to just mumble a bit and move on with my purchases.

This is relevant to the blog because that drug I am trying to have changed because it's making me crazy (Dr is on vacation until the 3rd, but the email is already sent) is also the reason I have porked up in the past 8 months. I mean, I'm a small person. I always was. And I don't even own a scale (no, really) so I can't give you poundage but I sew for a living and the way that I realized something was amiss was that I was making a mock up of a very simple new sheath dress I was designing and tried it on to check how it hanged (hung... hangerated... let us just seize the word "draped" here) on a real person as opposed to a dress form (you would be surprised at the difference a bit of articulation and squish can make) and when I pulled it over my head it slid down my torso and then made a DEAD STOP when it hit my ass. HOLY COW! I pulled out my tape measure to check what was up, but OH NO it wasn't my drafting skills to blame, it was the fact that my full hip was now two complete sizes larger than it had been just months before! Two sizes! I am sort of (totally) flat chested and I have always been a bit on the pear-shaped side, but the only word for me right now is "BOOTYLICIOUS".
God only knows what will happen when I switch on to a different medication. Like a thirty year old doesn't already feel self conscious enough about wearing a leotard in public :/

Friday, December 30, 2011

Denying Dancers Pointe Shoes Will Make Castro Relent

So I found out what the sack of pointe shoes on Monday was about! My teacher used to collect them to send to Cuban dancers. The embargoes were such that it was difficult for them to get pointe shoes imported in to the country. HOW FREAKING COOL IS THAT? I mean, I am a business owner, I am as big a capitalist as the next relatively poor liberal Californian, but I don't think that the citizens of a country should ever be penalized for the bad choices their governments make in their stead. God knows I wouldn't want to be held accountable for what MY government does. Even on a good day a million bad decisions get made. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


I just finished the first season of Princess Tutu. It seems to have gotten a lot less surreal with time, which I suppose is inevitable. You can't maintain that level of crazy forever, I guess. Anyway, it's actually kind of interesting and obviously written by people who are familiar with classical ballet. They reference and deliberately call back to some of the more famous ballets (swan lake, la sylphide, giselle, etc) and dancers (Marie Taglioni, Nijinsky, there is a rather amusing cat impresario called "Meowzinski" or something of the sort.) and the whole thing just has a kind of dreamy fun quality.
Since there is nothing new and exciting to say right now I will leave you with another one of my paper doll outfits from back when I was *mumblemumble* years younger. This is Cinderella (pre-ball).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Missed Opportunities

When I walked in to class yesterday evening there was a big sack of pointe shoes sitting in the lobby with a great big "free pointe shoes" sign attached to it. I fumbled for my phone so I could take a photo, but no. Along came my teacher and swept the bag away so as to not tempt her pathetic adult first-level students toward the path of self destruction. So sad. It would have made a lovely photo. Like Santa's sack, all laid out for dancers.

Remember how I said my studio has at least as many adult classes as it has children's classes? It's actually about 1.5 times MORE adult classes than children's classes. I'm impressed. Of course, I think my poor teacher is responsible for teaching almost all of them. I imagine she probably gets a day off... now and then.

I'm taking two classes this week! Because I can't do any next week. We are traveling to my husband's granny's house. The city where she lives is... it's a hole. It's the least beautiful and least comfortable city in Northern California. It has a lot of good medical facilities so it attracts hordes of really old slightly ill people. The entire place smells a bit off. It's the home of the worst Superfund site in the country. It is SO MUCH FUN. I don't know, I am not up on the slang these days, it's probably not cool anymore to say "NOT!"

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bury Him For Ninety Years, Then See If He Talks

So I started taking one of my prescriptions about... 8 months ago? Something like that. And it messes with your brain chemistry so for a few months I was REALLY TETCHY and grumpy all the time and could not suffer fools terribly gladly. Then a couple months back they doubled the dose on this shiznit. I am pretty much INTOLERABLE to be around, now. My mom gave me a Happy Light for Christmas. No joke.
Christmas with family was... oooooh yeah. So I had to travel by car for a couple of hours in the same vehicle as my parents. Who had an ipod hooked up to their car stereo, so I have to give them credit for that. But the speakers weren't all actually functioning? Or something? And there was this song playing that I didn't recognize, by an artist I couldn't pick out of a line up but it went on for something like ten minutes and all I could think was that it sounded like what you would get if you shot an angel, and then chained it to the wall in your basement, and forced it to sing at gunpoint. I told my husband this when I got home this evening and he said "oh man, you really need to get off that medication"
Anyway, that is my plan for this week. Researching other nerve blockers and their side effects and then pointedly emailing my doctor about what he NEEDS TO DO before my family locks me in a box.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Shopping Cart In Ballet Slippers

There's a new blog picture ----------->
Check it out!
My best friend asked how I was doing in dance class. And my reply?
"Like a shopping cart in ballet slippers."
 On a related note: do you know that there just aren't any high-res photos of shopping carts out there? Google images brings up several options, but they are all so tiny! I think I may have swiped the shopping cart there from some wholesale distributor. Let's just pretend I got it totally legit. Say nothing, act casual.

Look Me In The Eye When You Say That

Tis the season for everyone on Facebook to post youtube videos of Nutcracker! I know I have said it before, but I just HATE it when the camera zooms in on the dancer's faces. AUGH! Dancers do not intensively study facial expressions for twenty years! Show us the whole picture! Arms, legs, even fingertips are probably doing something more interesting than their faces.
A few weeks ago in class my teacher said something about "you know how when you watch a ballet you see the dancers do [whatever it was]. Oh, well you probably don't because you are watching their faces."
What? Who goes to a ballet and focuses on facial expressions? I understand the need to look toward the audience so that they will continue watching you, but... what. Of course, I am nearsighted and have been known to forget to bring my glasses while attending a ballet and sitting on the grand balcony. So... bigger is better for me! I have also attended ballets while sitting in the orchestra pit, and honestly I still wasn't looking that hard at faces. *shrug*

Probably because I was looking at pretty shoes and pretty costumes. Speaking of which...

In the spirit of the season (or something) I went through a bunch of old folders and notebooks from college and dug out some ballet costumes I drew when I was about 18. I have quite a few! These were paper doll clothes, obviously, so they aren't as detailed as they might have been, and after all these years I can find lots of things to nit pick about, but they are still kind of fun. Here we see that I was still groovin' on the candy cane design I came up with at age 11ish. I am going to account for the lack of seams by saying it's super stretchy.

Should I nit pick? Should I? It's my natural state of being to nit pick at clothing designs until I turn blue. If I was doing this today I would make the candy cane stripey things at the hip fuller so that it covers your ... area. If you catch my meaning.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sun Rise, Sun Set

We had a huge class last night. 11 people! We have new folks every week, it seems. I am desperate to start taking more classes per week, but I am going to be stuck taking the train and walking, which I don't want to do until the sun is up longer. Not that class is in the very worst part of town... it just isn't in the best part of town, either. The walk will include walking on a busy road with no sidewalks and passing not one but two no-tell motels. Classy with a capital ASSY!

Anyway, the Friday class will start at 5:30, so I have been waiting patiently for this.

FEBRUARY. I have got less than two months to get this inability to walk thing sorted out. Knees! We need to have a heart-to-heart.
I kind of just wish they would start the other class at 6, like the Monday class. I hate driving, but I would much rather do it. Public transportation in this town is a total joke.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Single Most Dangerous Thing You Will See All Day

I admit, I have a soft spot for technical drawings and off-beat inventions. Which is why google patents is like, the new love of my life. You can literally kill hours and hours there, just popping random junk in the search bar and seeing what comes up. I love finding stuff that I then see for sale. Stuff that I thought WHAT THE WHAT when I saw the patent.
Anyway, "ballet" is always a fun search term to use. Or "pointe". Because so much of this stuff is soooooo crazy. Here is the single most dangerous thing I have seen all day:

That is right, it's a crazy-ass pointe shoe with metal spikes on. You know, so you can do POINTE ON THE ICE. Because... uhm... because you haven't been in traction any time recently and it sounds like a great way to pass some time? Anyway, the full patent is here, so you can see the full-on insanity for yourself. I am LOOKING AT YOU Leo's!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Crackin' Those Nuts

Tis the season! I was inspired to dig these up when I was over at my mom's house last weekend. These were supposed to be for the Nutcracker, which I had just seen performed live for the second time. I was maybe eleven. JUST eleven. I don't remember exactly but I do remember that this was the year I saw Nina Baratova dance as the Sugar Plum Fairy and I had a huge girl crush on her at the time so that was pretty awesome.
I was at an in-between phase where I had decided that no, actually I did not want to be a lawyer when I grew up, but didn't know what to fill in the blank with. I had always spent my free time designing clothes, but this was right around the age when I decided that it was a viable career option. I hadn't learned much about sewing and clothing construction yet, so you have to give me a break. Also, I don't have any idea who most of these were supposed to be for.

This was for the candy canes, though. The ones who dance with a hoop. I remember this one very distinctly, it was supposed to be white and the stripey bits were, of course, white and red. I dig that it's so unconventional.

I have no idea what this one is for, though. All I know is that my note on it says that it should have white bishop sleeves (I didn't know they were called bishop sleeves then, so it says "big poofy sleeves"), a green bodice, and a darker overskirt thingy. I honestly don't know what shape the skirt was supposed to be. Bell-type tutu?
 No clue on the wearer of this, either. But, the note says it's probably pink floaty chiffon, with rhinestones where all the dots are.

Another for who-knows-who. BUT I had to include this one because I thought it should be made from a fabric that my mom had a skirt made from. I am all about reduce-reuse-recycle, and I STILL HAVE some of this fabric. 

See! There it is!--------------------------------->
This one is obviously the snowflakes, which were always my favorite part when I was a kid (excepting Mother Ginger, my other favorite part). I am still not entirely sure why snowflakes traditionally wear long floaty romantic tutus rather than classical tutus, which are, you know, snowflake shaped. Anyway, I guess 11 year old me was a rebel. I still think this is a cute idea, if poorly drawn. It would take unconventional materials, but that is the rage these days anyway. 

Also, it totally reminds me of that scene from Fantasia! You had better believe I was influenced by that, too. -------------------------------->

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

She Takes Her Pills, Careful And Round

Here is one day's worth of the crap I have to take. This doesn't include my multi-vitamin or calcium supplements (which I am having a hard time psyching myself back in to taking again). The big ones are actually flaxseed oil. I read that omega-3 supplements were supposed to help with rheumatoid arthritis so I tried taking fish oil pills for about a week. HOLY CRAP IT WAS AWFUL. The side effects are nasty, the pills are stinky, and besides, it is depleting our already over-fished ocean reserves. I gave up on the horrible little things and instead tried the flaxseed. No gross-out side effects at all. More omega-3 per pill than fish oil. And a super renewable resource as well. Take THAT fish oil companies! Also, it does seem to help the stiffness and creakiness in my joints. It doesn't do anything at all for pain, but you have to take your victories where you can find them.
The other crap is prescription medications. The little guy is a kick-ass anti-inflammatory (they want to try something else, but all the others I have tried are huge, require at least two doses a day, and don't work worth a damn) and the one with letters all over it is a tricyclic which blocks pain impulses from nerves. Or anyway that is the theory. The plain one is the same thing, only they prescribed me 75mg a day and gave me 50mg capsules. Yeah. So I got some empty ones at the co-op and I just sift my drugs in to them like a coke head. It's kind of funny, but also not.
Also not pictured: the two vicodin I usually take so that I can sleep. I try to only take them once or twice a week, but that only works some of the time.

I DID take a mile-long walk today, without a cane! I am certainly feeling it, but I am also just impressed that I did it! Go team me!

Whatever, yo!

I had a dream last night that I was dancing, en pointe, in new shoes, with no padding, all day long. At the end of the day I took my shoes off and all my toes were squished and stuck together.
I mean, other stuff was going on in the dream. There was a play or a parade or something. There was the Queen of England. There were people I was interacting with. But all I remember is my squished little toesies!
Maybe it's my subconscious way of dealing with the anxiety of the upcoming holidays. OR NOT.

Edited to add:
Oh yeah! Now I remember some more! I had to somehow produce 9 princess gowns (which were really more like over-dresses) for a show that started in an hour or something insane like that. TOTALLY an anxiety dream!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Port De Bras Forever

I could do port de bras all day long. Like, seriously, all day long. It is that one moment in class where I am standing in front of the mirror and I actually think to myself DAMN I LOOK GREAT. And there are precious few moments in life that make me feel that way. It's all about the port de bras. And also the fact that we are standing in croisé, which is sort of at an angle and makes you look narrow and tall. If you don't believe me look at the models in Vogue. Croisé
Also, port de bras sort of short circuits my brain a little so that I focus a lot less on what I am doing with my feet. Chassé with port de bras is way more fun than chassé with arms in second. It probably looks like a hot mess, but at least you can focus on something other than HOLY COW I HATE THIS PART.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Of Gray Tights

Nylon. It is an interesting fiber. It is man made, synthetic, and has a unique property whereby it attracts and absorbs dye readily. Which is great, because that means it is one of the only synthetic fibers that can be dyed at home. BUT, it also means that if you wash a nylon garment, let's say two pairs of pink tights, in a washer which also contains dark colored garments, let's say two black leotards, then your nylon will suck up as much of the dye the dark colored items shed as possible.
Which I know, because I was the first person in something like five years to graduate from Textiles class with an A. And also because I was a total idiot yesterday and washed all my delicates in the same load. And now I have peachy-gray tights to wear to class.

Thoughts at 2 AM

A few days ago over at the Adult Beginner blog (which you should read!) there was a post that has inspired a pretty interesting conversation in the comments.
I, also, get a twinge of sadness when I think back about how I totally missed the dancing boat when I was young and healthy. I can understand, intellectually, why I didn't study ballet as a child, but my heart wishes it was different. Also, I started ballet ten years ago! When I was younger and hardier and didn't have rheumatoid freakin' arthritis that floors me so effin' bad! I mean, what is my excuse? Why did I stop? What did I do in the last ten years that I couldn't have done better and stronger and happier if I had been dancing? It feels like such a waste.
There is also a comment from another rheumy, who explicitly states pointe as a goal. I know that I shouldn't feel weird about admitting it, but pointe is absolutely a goal for me. I don't need to be a frolicking ballerina, I just want to try it out. I want to cross it off my bucket list. If I give it a shot and decide it is sucky and painful and I feel no connection with it, no big deal. At least I gave it a try. But I hate to think of spending the rest of my life wondering why I never tried at all.

Friday, December 9, 2011

YouTube Has Failed Me

I cannot for the life of me find a youtube video that demonstrates waltz steps like the ones I have been struggling with the last three weeks. I can find super pro choreographed performances and I can find people sort of dancy-walking (up, up, plie, up, up, plie) but that is what we were doing in pre-ballet! The closest I can find are these 12 year olds kicking my ass serious style. Also, promenades! We just started promenades this week! They are awesome! Everything is awesome when you are me, I guess.
ALSO: Check this dude out. He is totally doing a pas de bourree. Dudes on the street! You are doing ballet!

Not Recreational Drug Use. I Swear.

There are a lot of different ways for adults to take ballet class. You can take a class for PE credit if you are enrolled in college. I am not. Nor did I take any PE classes while I *was* in college. Because I totally lucked in to a career degree that meant I only had to take fashion classes. For The Win. But anyway. Not the point.
You can take classes at a community center. The community center out where I used to live in the suburbs had classes. I took a belly dance class there for about a year. It was fun, but it was Not Serious.
You can take classes at a gym-type place. After all, everyone wants a body like whatserface in Black Swan these days (girl is too old to be that bony, though. I mean, I was crazy bony all through my teens and early twenties, I only weigh like 115 pounds right now, soaking wet with shoes on, and that is the heaviest I have ever been and includes two extra inches of butt fat that I have gained through the power of tricyclic medications. Also Not The Point. What was I saying? Oh yeah. But girlfriend is too bony, yeah? Even I think she's too bony and I am the queen of not telling people they are too bony. Because I got it ALL THE FREAKING TIME when I was growing up. People would straight up take my mom aside and tell her I had an eating disorder and she would be like "dude, no way. She eats like a million pounds of candy every day and ice cream for breakfast and then we go out for dinner and she's totally all over the second helping of mac and cheese. I think I know when my kid has an eating disorder, yo." Okay, still not the point.) ANYWAY. There is a place about a block from my house that has this sort of class. Also a $160 registration fee! And there is only one class! And it's in the middle of the day on a Wednesday! Also they have an ugly website that makes me feel icky! No, really! Your online presence is important!
OR you can find a dance studio and hope for the best. I have been through two ballet studios now. I took a year of ballet about ten years ago (I hate admitting it was that long ago, because it feels like I was a fresh-faced twenty year old full of promise just yesterday, but NO. It was totally TEN YEARS AGO. You are OLD MOTHER WILLIAM) Uhm... I lost my place again.
Oh yes. It was okay, but they were not terribly serious about the adult department. AND I was the only one who stuck with it for more than a few months, so the class kept resetting itself. The teacher was nice. A deeply handsome young man with blonde curls all up in yo' bidness. But he actually ASKED before he would touch you to make corrections. Dude, that is what I am here for. Touch all up on me, it's okay! I have janky posture, show me what I need to do! Anyway, after a year I wasn't progressing and felt annoyed by the whole thing. I tried the next level up, but it was obviously way beyond me and I actually had to leave the class early before I fell over.
My new studio. IT IS AWESOME. I didn't really know what to expect, but I love it! They have a full schedule of adult classes. Probably as many as they have for kids, almost. My teacher is very careful with our bodies and our restrictions. She is strict about posture and placement, but that is a good thing! I have two left feet, so sometimes she makes me redo things a million times. But that is okay! I won't get better if I don't practice, right? I kind of have a girl crush on her, because she is so freakin' awesome.

I am sure I had a point when I started this post.
Almost certain of it.
I probably should not have taken a vicodin before blogging :-/

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Art of Distraction

I was browsing through when I came upon a link to this story. It's about a guy with rheumatoid arthritis so advanced that he has to type his novels with a chopstick. I couldn't even get through it. I just skimmed. I am sure it is supposed to sound like an inspiring triumph, but to me it is utterly terrifying. I already know my time may be more than a bit limited. It's why I quit my retail job and took up dancing again. If I only have five years (ten years, two years, six months...) to live the way I do, then I will be damned if I am living it not dancing and stuck behind the wrap desk at a craft store.

I just try to distract myself. So I was thinking tonight, as I drove home from class, about the myriad ways ballet is a lot like sex.
You work up a sweat and get out of breath
You might think that make up will help, but you will just sweat it off anyway
If you haven't done it for a long time you are worried you'll be rubbish at it
Sometimes, no matter how much you like it, you just wish it was over
It's a little hard to pee afterward (TMI but you know it's true)
If the people you usually do it with aren't there you feel a little awkward
If you only do it once a week it's still better than not doing it at all.
the list could go on!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Awesome Neighbor is Awesome

You remember my foil ballerinas? A few of them ended up in arabesque, but let's be honest, I am not that creative so most of them were just doing pirouettes like the five year old in me thinks they should. Another bit of back story: I happen to live next to a person who is associated with a professional dance company.

Well, after Thanksgiving I finished putting up the decorations on the ugly faux ficus tree in the foyer and called it good. A few days ago my husband came home and handed me a few ballerinas that had fallen off the tree. I went back out there to reattach them and it looked like someone (perhaps someone's small and rambunctious dog), had smashed in to the tree, knocking it over and tossing most of the decorations off-kilter. It was standing again, but the garland was a little askew, and a few ballerinas were just hangin' on by whatever the ballet equivalent of a wing and a prayer is. As I was putting things to rights I found this:
GRAND JETÉ! That is just showing off! LOVE. IT.

By the way I finally figured out how to make accented Es on a PC without cutting and pasting:
Hold down the alt key while inputting this code:
0201 = É
0233 = é
0232 = è

Sunday, December 4, 2011


My husband and I have been watching a show on Netflix, and whenever a particular character whom he hates says anything the hubby says "SMACK!"
You know, because she's so stupid you want to smack her? Hey, at least he's not all hot for every pretty girl on TV, am I right?
Anyway, so a couple of weeks back I was in such terrible pain and was so stiff in the knees that I could hardly walk. I frantically e-mailed my doctor and begged for help. Anything. A different pain killer or anti-inflammatory. A referral back to a rheumatologist or physical therapist. ANYTHING. He responded by sending me in for x-rays and said vaguely that maybe he'd think about steroid injections if he saw whatever the hell he was looking for on the x-rays. Okay. Fine. I was pretty sure that the x-rays would show NOTHING, because I have had every part of my body x-rayed already. So it was just a day that I had to spend in a silly hospital gown standing next to a pole with the words 'left" and "right" written on it in lead, and feeling self conscious about the holes in my socks while getting bombarded with radiation for no reason. But that isn't what annoyed me.
I heard nothing from my doctor for two weeks, and then last week I received a letter in the mail. It said "x-rays unremarkable. No damage or  defects found". Signed sealed delivered. Not a word on what that means to him, or why he made me take the stupid x-rays in the first place when all evidence points to a problem that is not related to my bones in any way. I should write back to him, but I am too livid to even deal with the man right now. I don't even care what the condition is anymore! I just want a treatment for the symptoms! But every time I say a thing to a doctor within this shitty HMO all I get is "we don't know what's wrong with you".

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stand Up Straight

One of the big reasons I decided to go in to this whole ballet thing (aside from the fact that I enjoy it) was because my posture could use some serious help. It's... it's really bad. I have scoliosis and sort of a sway back, and when I think I am standing up straight I am actually sort of leaning backwards. That can't be making the joints in my legs and hips any better.
For the first two months of class I was being corrected on my posture CONSTANTLY. But as soon as we started doing all of our barre work with one hand on the barre (so I could finally see myself in the mirror from the side) I figured out what correct posture is supposed to look like. Doing it without the help of a mirror is a bit tricky, still.
I guess until I was 30 freaking years old I didn't know what correct posture felt like. It feels sort of unnatural, like I am hunching my upper back, but I'm not. Also, I have to pull my tummy in constantly, a trick I am attempting to practice more in daily life. Like sitting on the bus today. Repeating a little mantra in my head.
Tummy in, shoulders forward, tummy in, shoulders forward, tummy in, shoulders forward...

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Are Not So Bad Off

brazilian ballet school teaching the blind 

Very cool little video.

I was just thinking about how I hurt right now to the point that I want to call it stupid. Like... I stupid hurt right now. Like it's an emphasizing word*. But now that I've watched that I think I will just pretend I am not as shallow and self centered as I actually am and just say that we finally did more turning pas de bourrée and it was much less awful this time. We also did more of the crazy waltzing and hey, at least it almost made sense. Just almost, though.

*I know it has a name but I asked my husband (who has an English degree) and he was like "I dunno, yo" and if he doesn't know then what hope do I have (I have a stinkin' fashion degree)?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goals With a Capital G.

My ankles are not allowed to go. Because, you see, I have got goals. No, make that Goals. Ya can't dance without ankles. They've been a little testy lately. Mostly I think that is because I am using them more and in new and different ways. So my tendons go a little twangy or something. That is what I am betting on. Hoping for. I lay awake some nights, and though I am a staunch atheist I sort of pray to the universe in general "not my ankles, not my ankles, not my ankles, not my ankles......"

Review? Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

Okay, I am not even going to pretend this is a review. I'm not going to be objective.
A few months ago I stumbled across a snippet of this on YouTube (here is a particularly creepy and/or awesome bit, you should check it out) and immediately rushed around trying to find it on DVD. It finally came out at the end of October, and I had it pre-ordered (ostensibly for my birthday, but I was going to buy it anyway because DAMN) so it was in my hot little hands the day after it officially came out.

Yeah, that is what I was trying to get across.

It's got some serious production values. It's filmed live, but really well. I can't stand it when you see dancers on film and they are constantly showing close up shots of the face or maybe the head and upper torso. That just misses the whole freaking point of dance. Anyway. So. It's filmed well, it's danced beautifully, the costumes and sets are fun. The dancers can mostly actually act (which is not always the case). The dancer doing Alice manages to capture that sort of spunky youthfulness that most actresses can't even manage...

OH! And I forgot! I am sort of an Alice snob. Totally an Alice snob, actually. When I was a teenager (oh god, confession time) I had a photograph of Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) in my room like most girls would have the teen idol of the moment. Slightly earlier in life I kept my hardbound copy of Alice and Looking-glass (a gift from my Nana when I was about 6 or 7) in a special little pouch hanging from the arm of my day bed. I memorized the "Life, what is it but a dream?" poem and said it aloud EVERY NIGHT. I am pretty hard to impress Alice-wise. This doesn't use the same "framing" story as Alice, because a full length ballet without a pas de deux would just not fly, so they have to add a certain romantic element. And you know what? It doesn't drive me crazy. That is saying an awful lot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ballet For Dummies (Meaning Me)

You almost certainly heard about the incident that occurred at a local college campus recently. This is the college where my mother went to school, and where she would take us to feed the ducks or to attend festivals devoted to sustainable living and world peace. Anyhow, so this terrible thing happened. Tonight my ballet teacher appologized for being a little out of it because she had been at the campus all day protesting. I knew I liked her!

In other news, I think my chassés and glissades are getting a bit better. At least when compared to the new and confusing thing we did tonight: waltz steps. Crazy difficult! Mostly because by that point my feet were hurting so bad that trying to hit demi-pointe was tortuous. We did not do pas de bourrée en tournant tonight, which is sort of a shame. I had done really really badly at the turning part last week so I spent some time practicing in my kitchen and living room and I felt sure that I could do at least passably (or, at least better) this time. There is no way I can practice this waltzing jazz, though, because I can't even remember it! You step and you turn and you... do some painful thing with your feet... and then you brush back or maybe forward and you... I have no freaking idea. Oddly enough I really enjoy the moving steps. Pas de bourrée is probably my favorite thing that we are doing right now.

Oh! I did some of those changements tonight! About half of them, though I did a full set earlier in the class, so that has got to count for something.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Review: Who Da Princess?

I appear to be catching a cold, which means I will probably spend most of tomorrow sitting on the couch drinking tea and watching Netflix. But you can't watch The Tudors ALL day, right? I mean, without wanting to strangle whoever put all those women in bodices without chemises under them. Or maybe that is just me. ANYWAY.

So, a while back Netflix noticed that I had watched The Red Shoes and suggested that I watch this.
Princess Tutu.
Now, is that the single worst title in existence or what? AnyWAY.

It's a magical girl anime. But... huh.
Well, it's about a duck who...
It's about a girl who takes dance lessons at some sort of boarding school in what I assume is Germany. And she is a super hero...
She's a duck who turns in to a girl who turns in to a magical ballerina super hero named Princess Tutu.
And there is a dance instructor named Mr. Cat who threatens that his delinquent students will have to marry him and....

Okay. None of this is working. Let me just say this: The last episode I watched contained almost 15 minutes of dialogue between a duck and a lamp.
It's like Dali, at his most attention-whorey, wrote a magical girl anime based around ballet dancing. There is no fighting. Just dancing. It's...
It's so strange it keeps me coming back for more.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

changin' it up

I got to go back to class last night, which was pretty fabulous. I spent most of last week hobbling around with a cane and taking copious amounts of vicodin (and crying) so I wasn't able to go up to two classes a week. But I had vowed that I was going to Monday class even if I had to be rolled in to the damn studio.

With my knees all but out of commission there was no way in heck I was going to do any 32 changements at the end of class (What is the magic about the number 32 in ballet? No one should be subjected to 32 changements unless it is some kind of punishment for crimes against society) so my instructor had me do 32 relevés with pliés instead. That was interesting because it was super fast and my feet did not want to stop when I hit demi pointe, so they sort of kept going until I whammed 'em back down. It might be fascinating, feet, that you can go to full pointe in soft shoes, but it isn't doing me any favors. Also, holy crap my calves hurt.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Incredible Shrinking Slipper

Okay, so it is pretty widely accepted wisdom that when you buy dance shoes you should have them fit by a professional at a dance wear store unless you are buying the exact same make, style, and size of a shoe that you already know and love. OKAY. So I am lazy, and also cheap. And I decided that I didn't want to drive all the way out to my city's one and only Capezio's because it's inconvenient and the employees always give you the funny eyeball. Also, shoes are like half price online!

Well. So how many pairs of dance shoes have I ordered online recently? FIVE. And how many fit right out of the box? ZERO. My split sole canvas Grishko's were not too bad, though, just a bit snug. So I got them wet and wore them around the house for a few days and hey presto!

But then my instructor mentioned that beginners should wear full soled shoes to build up strength in their feet. Well, damn. I had gone the split-sole route specifically because when I had owned full soled slippers many moons ago I kind of hated them. The split soles didn't actually solve that problem, though. Your toes are gonna be all pinched and awkward one way or the other. So I decided that I needed some full soled shoes. I am a little obsessive about wanting to get my feet nice and strong (MORE on this later).

Long story short I ended up buying two pairs of leather slippers and neither of them fit worth a fig. One pair is MASSIVE, but one pair was just a biiiiiit too large. So I embarked on an experiment that flew in the face of everything I was ever taught about caring for leather apparel (my deepest apologies to Marie, my college instructor and seamstress extraordinaire). Are you ready for it? I SHRANK THEM!

POW! I got them soaking wet in the sink, then popped them in to a lingerie bag and stuck them in the drier until they were bone dry. And it actually WORKED! It was pretty amazing. I, myself, personally, am amazed. They won't win any beauty contests, but they fit pretty well now and I wore them to class with no problems. They aren't all stiff or weird, either.

The moral of this story is... actually things that are accepted wisdom are usually that way for a reason. Don't be a cheapy cheapskate and buy stuff online, I guess. But if you do... there are magic tricks! Huzzah!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tin Foil Ballerinas

 Did anyone else make tin foil ballerinas for the Christmas tree when they were kids? They are super cheap and easy and you can make them in any size. Big honkin' ones for little hands and teeny tiny ones for grown up hands. I have been making them to decorate the ugly faux ficus tree in my apartment building's communal foyer for the last few years. Since I can't go to class tonight (hurt too much) I am releasing my frustration by distraction, and making this year's crop a bit early.
You just take a square of aluminum foil and cut or tear it along the lines here ---------->
and then squish the foil up until it is roughly human shaped. Then you can pose them. I suppose they could be imps or fairies, but ours were always ballerinas. Arms in high fifth are perfect for hanging them on the tree. When I was little I always posed them as if they were doing pirouettes with their arms in fifth. Because that was what Ballerinas Looked Like, thank you very much! I also made little tutus for them with fabric or scraps of paper cut in to a circle with a hole in the middle to fit around their waist.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Communication and the Internet Age

Blogger has changed it's back-end stuff pretty seriously lately. I was cruising around trying to figure out how the new features and layout work when I found an analytics page. Now, I love me some ridiculous and unusable statistics so I clicked on through to check it out. One of the things that irks me about the analytics page I use to track hits to my business page is that it shows you the name of a referring site but fails utterly to make that information in to a convenient link. But this! This had links to all referring sites! So cool! So I clicked through to my top referring site.
I am unsure where the referral comes from, but ooooookkkkkaaaaayyyy.
So anyway, allow me to extend a warm welcome to new readers who are big fans of Emma's photoshopped boobies. Hi!

With this post I am pretty sure a google search for "Naked Emma Watson" will now link to my ballet blog. Oh internet, you so crazy.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Stupid Pain. Nobody Likes you.

I know, I know. Posty McPostalot. But I'm suffering from an excess of things to talk about. I wrote this whole post here and then realized that it was just me complaining. BUT. I think that part of the reason this blog exists is so that I can complain. I can complain about pain and I can elate about ballet. Or complain about ballet. That will happen too, sometimes. Anyway, the next two paragraphs are the uncut and pure pity party post (P!P!P!) that I started out with. The stuff at the end is BALLET TALKIN' MMKAY.

Today my world is mostly frustratingly painful. I would like a medication that works for more than two days straight. I would also like some sort of treatment plan that would actually allow me to *do* things, rather than just lay perfectly still all day for fear of aggravating some part of my body. Sometimes it is hard not to feel like something is purposefully making life miserable for me in the most evil and spiteful way. This whole rheumatism thing only really got a sort-of diagnoses when it manifested itself in my hands and wrists. And of course I work with my hands, so it was like taking away a big important part of my self worth. Years in to this and nothing has ever helped my hands much, treatment-wise. I can certainly do things that make it worse, but I can't do anything to make it better.

It's funny, though, because my hands have been so bad for so long that unless it flares up especially badly (like it did this past summer when I was working 11 hour days in the costume shop at a local theater) I hardly even think about it that much any more. It's just a pain that I have learned to internalize and live on top of, rather than under. But the F*CKING KNEES! It's a new pain, relatively. And maybe it's the newness that makes it so much harder to take right now. And the fact that all I want to do right now is dance, and this is Not Helping That. Once in a while every joint in my body will flare up really badly and I will be on my ass for weeks, but eventually it starts to fade enough that I can start doing things again. But this, this is constant. It's like the thing that is going on in my hands, only it's in another part of my body. Always. Always. It's a little maddening. When I think of how long it took me to learn to sit on the pain in my hands (years. YEARS) it frightens the hell out of me.

SO ANYWAY. I went to my first real live Ballet I class yesterday! It is technically a Ballet I/II class, but at least half of us were recent graduates from the pre-ballet class, so sorry other 4.5 people, you are stuck doing class with the slow kids for a while. I could do the stuff, mostly (my chassés and glissades are a suck-fest but that is not new information) but I get SO confused and lose my place when we are doing combinations. It's ridiculous. It's like some amusing poster you would expect to see in the kids section of the library. Where a whole class of little ballerinas is standing with their right arm in fifth and then the one little ballerina with the messy hair in the third row has her left arm in fifth. I am the tousled ballerina.

Also, someone has got to show me how to make accent gras (and the other one, the one I forget how to spell because French class was 13 years ago. Accent ay goo?) when I am typing, because cutting and pasting from wikipedia is NO GOOD. (Later... So it's spelled "egu" which is how I thought it was spelled, but it looked too stupid to be right.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Dancing Around in Tutus

When I tell people I take ballet lessons, the most common question I am asked is "you really dance around in a tutu?" I suppose that the question is innocent enough.
There are a couple of misconceptions involved here, though.

First: No. No one is wearing a tutu. Tutus are costumes made to show off your fancy footwork. Even professionals take class in tights, leotards, and not much else. If it's cold I wear my little knee warmers. If I am on my period (TMI? Suck it up) I have some floaty georgette booty shorts (okay, "tap pants") that I made, but a lot of gals wear those little chiffon wrap skirts. The less you wear the better your teacher can see what you are doing and correct your mistakes. The tights are pink or black, the leotard is anything that doesn't ride up your butt too much. The leg warmers and sweaters are usually ancient and full of holes. It's part of the look (also, dancers are famously BROKE.)

Second: Ballet class, especially beginning ballet class but even top-level stuff, involves very little dancing. Mostly it's exercises that strengthen your feet, legs, back, etc. You do a whole lot of lifting parts of yourself and supporting your body weight in ways you don't in regular life. You work on your posture and on pulling up through the top of your head to keep your muscles engaged and your weight off your legs (you know how kids weigh twice as much when they are sleeping? That is because dead weight feels a whole lot heavier than active weight). You do lots of combinations of movements in time to music so that you will develop some sense of musicality and learn to do multiple things with your body at once. It's like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time. You work on that sort of thing by doing some combination of steps with your feet while doing some other combination of movements with your arms. IT'S HARD. But the whole idea is that once you are strong enough and have the muscle memory in place and your coordination is good enough... then they can give you some crazy choreography and you can dance without thinking about "oh man, are my legs turned out enough? is my back straight enough? are my arms supposed to be pointing down when I do this thing or up or what?"

So, no. No pretty princesses in tutus. I will Discuss Tutus later, though, because that is at least a whole post on it's own for a clothing construction nerd like me!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

knees up!

My project for today.
I have leg warmers, but they don't really cover the needed territory. And it gets so hot in class, I don't want any extra fabric on my body if I can avoid it. Enter knee warmers! They are silly looking, but I think they will be a boon as the weather gets colder. I know that they look like I just cut the arms off an old sweater and stitched some elastic to the top, but that is because I *did* just cut the arms off an old sweater and stitch some elastic to the top!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Rheumatic Princess. Take one.

It was hard to find a name for this blog. I kept wanting to make a play on the word "pneumatic" but what could I use that wouldn't just sound strange? Actuator? No. So, I gave up and used the first thing that came to mind. SO. The back story for people who don't know it:

I'm 30 years old, work in fashion and costuming, and live in central California. I have an undifferentiated (that is the fancy word for "unknown") auto-immune disorder that makes me feel pretty much like a 90 year old woman ALL THE TIME.
A few months ago my knees went, and when something decides to go it does not come back. So there I was, feeling annoyed and pained in this new and unhappy way. What was the best way to deal with it? Well, of COURSE it was to take up a new and punishing physical discipline! But seriously folks, I had sort of folded in on myself when pain became a constant in my life a few years ago, as a result I just reached a point where I realized I was WAY out of condition, my mobility was at an all-time low, and I just felt it was time to MOVE again before I collapsed. Also, looking at pictures of pretty dance shoes just about kills me.
I have been taking ballet classes for two whole months, now! I just "graduated" from the pre-beginning class and on Monday I will try my hand (er, feet) at the *actual* level I class! If I can get there before class starts without getting stuck in commute traffic, anyway.

So, there you have it. This blog is a place for me to babble about ballet and rheumatism and the exciting and horrible ways the two interact on a daily basis.
I will do some work on the horrible layout and design later. For now: